#REVIEW: “WELCOME TO MARWEN”
Review by Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
Welcome To Marwen is based on the true story of Artist and Photographer Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carell). After leaving a bar one night, a group of White Supremacists ferociously beat Hogancamp within an inch of his life, all because he said liked to wear high-heeled shoes. The beating was so violent it wiped away all his memories and left him with shaky hands which hindered his ability to draw. When he returned home he constructed an art installation which he crelease wen (now called Marwencol), a fictional town in Belgium. He uses toy dolls and his imagination to come up with World War II scenarios that help him heal and cope with the attack. He has now become an accomplished photographer due to the photography he has taken of the dolls’ adventures in Marwencol.
There is something beautiful about Hogencamp‘s Marwencol and Director and Co-Screenwriter Robert Zemeckis’ message in this Film. That message is about how powerful creating Art can be to the one making it. Hogencamp was able to use his Art to heal the suffering and fear he had following his attack. Zemeckis adds a great visual component to his message by using Motion Capture technology during the Marwen scenes. This effect visually connects Hogencamp’s two worlds, the world of Marwen and the real world, and how he exists in them both. There is a flaw in Welcome To Marwen and that’s the use of its female characters. They seem to be there solely as Plot devices to further Hogencamp‘s story, while never having much of a background or story themselves. However, at times it seems the Film is trying to show the enormous amount of empathy women have for others. These women know the scenarios, sometimes sexualized, that their associated dolls have in Marwen. But they are never angry, they understand.
The Screenwriters, Zemeckis and Caroline Thompson, should be commended for bringing Hogencamp’s uniqueness to the screen. In the Film, Hogencamp states that he likes wearing high-heeled shoes because it makes him feel the essence of a woman. This is something that many would cringe at if delivered with any less sincerity. And that’s why the casting of Steve Carell as Hogencamp is fitting. Carell has a loveable and kind quality, so coming from his lips, we believe it. Out of the female Cast, Leslie Mann is a delight. She plays new neighbour Nicol and Hogencamp’s newest character in Marwen. Her tremendous talent shines through in an uncomfortable scene where Hogencamp and Nicol are having tea. In this scene, she displays a measured amount of empathy and unease.
Universal Pictures Canada release WELCOME TO MARWEN on Friday, December 21, 2018.